When I started Budding Smiles nearly 5 years ago, it was a diary. A diary of pregnancy and love and life and motherhood. I started just at the point when ‘Mummy Bloggers’ were becoming quite a thing, with the number of such blogs shooting through the roof in recent years.

Somewhere in the chaos, I lost my way. I lost my purpose and my passion, my reasons for starting a blog.

It was never for the reviews or the sponsored posts, but purely for the words. It was to record our family as it blossomed and grew, to ensure that the special moments and adventures weren’t lost as the years passed and memories faded.

At the time of writing my first ever blog post, my Nan was going into a residential care home because of her Alzheimer’s becoming too advanced for her to stay at home. Nan passed away in March of this year with myself, Grandad, Mum, my aunt, and my uncle by her side. That has changed me, there’s no doubt about that; the most traumatic, impossible, heartbreaking time, happening during what has been a tough year from the very first month.

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I recently had the chance to read words my Nan had written in her diary on the day my Mum was born. I could hear her voice as I read those words, and they overflowed with love for her new daughter, her young son, and her husband. I wiped away my tears and later I read Toby’s birth story and then Martha’s – my 21st century versions of Nan’s diary entries.

I’ve never been disingenuous on this blog, that I can say hand on heart. I’ve had wonderful opportunities which I am so grateful for; reviewed some amazing products and places, made lifelong friends, been inspired by passionate writers and speakers, met some lovely famous types. I’ll never regret any of that! But I’ve also chased sponsored posts in order to validate myself as a blogger and prove that I could earn a living despite my PND-addled assertions that I was a failure in so many aspects of my life.

I’ve never written anything I didn’t believe, never taken on work for companies that conflict with my morals, never lied. But in this space which was created to forever capture and hold the story of our family, I have posted stuff I’ve not cared about in order to make a few quid. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve also had the absolute joy of writing posts from the core of my being, while being paid to do so. I guess the balance just started tipping the wrong way and I fell wholly out of love with it all.

I’ve not felt like a fully fledged member of the blogging community for quite some time now, and leaving Facebook groups which weren’t actually adding value to my life really highlighted that fact. It’s not that I don’t have great friends from blogging, or that I don’t have huge admiration and respect for several bloggers. Those I admire the most range from the bigger names in the biz to ‘smaller’ bloggers but whose words and photography resonate with me.

I have been proud to have helped genuine readers through my coverage of mental health, silent reflux, and the such. If anyone comes to my blog I want it to be because they care about something I’ve written, not because were part of a ‘tribe’ or a like-for-like rings. That stuff doesn’t sit well with me.

So to come full circle; if I publish posts moving forward, they will be from the heart. The highs and the lows, the milestones, the dreams, the businesses, the adventures. If I continue with Budding Smiles then it will be as a legacy book for my babies and my future grand babies, not for clicks and views.

For now, I’m ending 2018 with my family and as the bell strikes midnight I won’t draw a line under this fairly crappy year, because processing what we’ve been through and the related feelings is an ongoing thing. But I will wave goodbye to the year that has thrown depression and anxiety, grief, financial worries, autism/PDA assessments, and more at us.

I will turn to face 2019 feeling more secure in the decisions I’m making, knowing that like my Nan did in her diary, the words I leave behind may never be worth money, but will be priceless for my family.

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